Category Archives: Coop Games

A listing of all the cooperative games we have reviewed, with the link to the review and the 2P vs 4P rating.

Dragonfire First Impressions

Dragonfire is a cooperative deck builder set in the D&D multiverse. Players take on a one of the races and character classes and fight their way through encounters to finish an adventure. Similar to a legacy game, Dragonfire has you mark up your character sheet with stickers and doing better on an adventure will yield XP and items for next games. The base game has 8 adventures to play though, each with optional scenarios to make it even harder.


When I heard about Dragonfire a few months back, the hype was definitely real. A cooperative D&D deck builder? I knew my game group would be all over that. We managed to get the tutorial adventure played and the excitement continued to increase.  Come the next week and we played the first Evil Arises Adventure.

We got creamed. We had to keep checking the rulebook almost every turn for rule clarifications and keywords. The tutorial did not prepare us for the complexity of this game. Not only that, but we didn’t even know how the easier, less complex Dungeon Crawl standalone adventure. It wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the rulebook to start with that adventure.

So once we epically lost our first adventure, we went on to the Dungeon Crawl, which we thankfully won. But the hype was gone by then. Our group is unsure about Dragonfire and how much grinding each adventure will take, to earn enough XP to move on to higher level adventures.

The mechanics themselves are fine. I do think they added one more layer of complexity than they needed to. I also think our group won’t enjoy doing each adventure 4-5 times just so we can level up. We have so many other board games to play, and this one didn’t sit as well as I’d hoped with the group.

We also found out later that there was an errata to the first Evil Arises adventure, that would’ve made our time much easier. That tells me that they are still essentially playtesting the game and balancing it out. That doesn’t give me a lot of confidence to be honest.

What I will say is the card and component quality are amazing. The artwork, stunning. That’s part of what made me so excited when I opened the box. But to us, the gameplay was lackluster at best and tedious at worst. My game group does plan on giving this game a few more goes, but I think we are going to house rule to add extra XP for the game. They really aren’t interested in grinding through the game.

So, overall, Dragonfire fell flat upon the hype I had for it. I’m hoping later adventures will be more fun, and that with adding more XP that my game group will enjoy it better. If you don’t like grinding style games, Dragonfire is definitely not for you. I think my friend said it best: “I’d rather just play normal D&D.”



The Goonies: Adventure Card Game Review

The Goonies: Adventure Card Game is a fully cooperative board game for 1-4 players using the movie: The Goonies as the setting. The Goonies: ACG is designed by Ben Pinchback and Matt Riddle and published by Albino Dragon. The goal of The Goonies: ACG is to find all paths to One Eye Willy’s ship by clearing obstacles and defeating the criminal family the Fratellis.

My son makes a cameo in set up photo for The Goonies: ACG
My son makes a cameo in set up photo for The Goonies: ACG

At the start of the game, players choose one of the neighborhood kids as their character. Each character has a different power which can be used throughout the game. There are 5 different locations where players have to search for the path to One Eye Willy’s ship. There are also obstacles in each location, which the players have to play cards from their hand to clear.img_3064

What’s most interesting about The Goonies: ACG is that there are no individual turns in the game. Players have four actions as a whole group and have to decide together what to do. This is a great mechanic for groups who make decisions easily together or for players who are newer board games. It is easy to teach as just one experienced player can help the whole group make decisions.img_3061

However, players do get to make some individual decisions as their characters has special abilities they can activate during the game. This helps players to feel important in the game, otherwise, whoever had the strongest personality would just take over the game. The decisions in The Goonies: ACG are pretty basic, you just need to play cards to clear obstacles, and keep track of how many Fratteli cards are in play. While the game itself is not complex, it does provide good fun especially for those who enjoy cooperative games. I also appreciate that there are different difficulty levels and a challenge mode. This will help the game to have good replay value, since the default game is straight forward and easy to win.img_3067

While many of the cards had photos from the movie, other cards had pretty basic object art on them. I wasn’t super impressed with the art, and I wish it had been a little higher quality. To be honest, I think this game would have been better with having its own custom art and not having The Goonies IP. There was nothing inherent to the game that said “The Goonies” other than the photos on the cards. That being said, having The Goonies theme could allow casual gamers to pick this up because of the IP and get more into board gaming.

For anyone who has seen The Goonies movie, this will be a highly nostalgic board game. The cards have photos from the movie, which bring back some of the characters and famous scenes. The Goonies: ACG is on the lighter end of cooperative games and can be a great gateway to heavier games. I’m excited that there is a solo mode, which works incredibly well since players don’t have individual turns anyways. While the theme doesn’t mesh completely with the mechanics, it can bring people to play the game where they otherwise might have been intimidated by a different theme. Overall, The Goonies: ACG is a good cooperative game especially for families and casual gamers.


Bomb Squad Review

Bomb Squad is a 2-6 player cooperative real time board game where players are a team of operatives controlling a robot that diffuses bombs and saves hostages. Bomb Squad is designed by Dan Keltner and David Short, published by Tasty Minstrel Games.    Players take turns doing various actions, whether it is giving a teammate a clue about their hand or programming the robot. Play continues until time runs out, the robot’s reserve battery goes to zero, or players fulfill the mission conditions. In the last case, players win the game!

Players face their hands outward and cannot look at their own cards.
Players face their hands outward and cannot look at their own cards.

Bomb Squad uses an action and movement programing mechanic to control the robot as well as hand management with a twist: players must face their hands out toward their other teammates. In other words, each player does not know their individual hands, only the hands of their teammates.

One of the actions that players can do is give clues to a teammate’s hand; for example, show their teammate which cards in their hand are red or which ones are move cards. Another action a player can do is play a card into the programming queue for the robot. In regular missions, players have to do this face down, so only their teammates know if it was the right card. Thirdly, a player can discard a card and name an attribute of the card to recharge the robot battery. Lastly, a player can program the robot by turning over the cards in the robot program queue and arranging them as needed in order to move the robot, open doors, disarm bombs, or save hostages.

Programming the robot can be tough sometimes.
Programming the robot can be tough sometimes.

What makes Bomb Squad stand out from other cooperative games is that it is real time.  You have to make fast and frantic decisions, as the time ticks down. Players who have analysis paralysis beware, you cannot take time thinking about the optimal move, you must go on instinct. While there are other real time cooperative games out there, what I love about Bomb Squad is the replay value of the game. There are 11 missions and 2 tutorial missions, and they are hard. It took my group 3 tries to finish the 2nd tutorial mission. You will likely have to play each mission at least twice, depending on how fast your team thinks.

Will you save hostages before time runs out?
Will you save hostages before time runs out?

There is also a modular board, so later missions will have a larger board and thus a harder set. No mission is longer than 30 minutes, so even if you lose one of the harder missions, you can reset easily and try again. The modular board is a very tight fit though, we had to force the pieces to close. Otherwise, the component quality is very good. The various tokens are thick and the cards shuffle well. There are no colorblind issues because the cards are primary colors and they have levels that correspond with the color.

Warning: Bomb Squad may make your team delirious from the frantic decisions. Laugh your way through the stress :)
Warning: Bomb Squad may make your team delirious from the frantic decisions. Laugh your way through the stress 🙂

I like to say that Bomb Squad is like Hanabi meets Robo Rally in cooperative real time.  The outward hands plus having a time limit makes for a very different strategy than Hanabi, and discarding cards does not yield bad penalties. It also varies than Robo Rally in that you don’t have to worry about turning the robot, which definitely helps for those that have a harder time with spatial reasoning.

Bomb Squad is a very solid cooperative game that will leave you sweating at the end. Having to make frantic decisions has the time ticks down holds to the theme very well. Gamers that want a challenging cooperative game will certainly enjoy Bomb Squad.

I was provided a review copy for Bomb Squad.


Sentinels of the Multiverse

Overview: Sentinels of the Multiverse is a cooperative fixed deck card game in which comic book heroes work together to defeat a villain.  Players choose their hero deck before play as well as the villain deck and environment deck.  The game starts with the villain phase where drones, minions, or powers are revealed.  Play continues with the players’ hero turns where they may play a card, activate a power, then draw a card.  These hero cards can be one-shots, ongoing, or special equipment that gives the hero and his teammates an extra boost in battle.  The round ends with the environment deck which usually reeks havoc on the heroes, although some can have positive affects.  Game ends when all heroes are destroyed or villain is destroyed (winning condition).  sentinels box

Sentinels of the Multiverse is rich in its comic book theme with awesome artwork and vibrant colors that makes it seem like you are in the comic book world.  Players can choose from 10 different heroes, each of which have their own fixed deck, hit points (HP), and powers.  It’s important to read each hero deck and get a feel for what type of character they are, whether it be a powerhouse or a support character.  Players should work together picking their heroes and try to find ones that will work together well.  The villains and environments also have different difficulties and often make the villain even more powerful. Sentinels of the Multiverse can be a very challenging game, which is important in a cooperative game.  Sentinels balances itself out in difficulty because players can choose the difficulty before playing as they become familiar with the heroes, villains, and environments.

In terms of gameplay, Sentinels feels simple at the start, but increases complexity as cards are revealed giving extra damage to players or villains, damage immunity, extra powers, etc.  Players must constantly keep track of who has the highest/lowest HP as certain environments or villain cards target one or the other.  The damage tokens and condition tokens (i.e. +1 damage dealt, immune to toxic) help keep track as the game unfolds. Your heroes become more powerful as the game continues, with ongoing affects and powers making for huge damage or protection from villains.  However, the villain or environment deck may reveal cards that trash all hero cards of a type or cause huge damage to players who have tons of equipment cards out, for example.  This makes victory not as assured, which keeps the game interesting and challenging.  Sentinels has great replay value because of the different combination of heroes, villains, and environments to choose from.  Add expansions to the mix, and the game just keeps on giving.  Sentinels of the Multiverse is a formidable cooperative game with a rich theme that even those who aren’t comic fans will enjoy.Sentinels Gameplay

2 Player Experience

Two player in Sentinels of the Multiverse is actually a three player game in a sense, since one player controls two heroes.  Sentinels is more challenging with 2-3 players since there are only 3 hero turns in between villain and environment phases instead of 4 or 5.  There are some cards that deal damage based on the number of players, which does balance out the difficulty somewhat.  Even with the harder game, Sentinels plays really well with 2 players.  Controlling two heroes was very fun, especially being able to combine a support character with a powerhouse character.  If players find only having three heroes too challenging, they may decide to control two heroes each.  In this way, the 2 and 4 player experience aren’t too different.

4 Player Experience

Four players with Sentinels of the Multiverse is a little less difficult than two player, but this can be balanced with choosing a harder villain or environment.  Each player controls one hero and the downtime between turns isn’t an issue, as each hero consults their teammates on what to do during their turn.  Players have a better chance of their heroes working together as there are four heroes instead of three, but it’s still important to make sure to have a hero or two who can help heal the team.  The cool thing about four player is to see all the heroes working together in different ways and being able to see more heroes in action.  Otherwise the gameplay is still quite similar to two player and is still extremely fun.



Overview: Hanabi is a cooperative card game with a unique twist: players do not see their own hand, but see all the other players hands.  Players are a team of frantic pyro-technicians who are working together to set off fireworks (cards) in order 1-5 of each color. Each turn, players choose whether to play a card, discard a card, or tell one fact about their teammate’s cards.  For example, a player may say to their teammate, “You have three blue cards.”  Players only have a certain number of times they can say a fact about cards, marked by tokens, until they have to start discarding to gain tokens back.  If a player puts down a card not in the right color or number, a fuse token gets removed.  End game condition is all cards run out (can’t draw), too many fuse tokens revealed, or players set off the right fireworks (1-5 of every color in the right order).  Players then add up total score from the highest card in each color.  Perfect score is a 25.hanabi box

Hanabi is a very unique cooperative game in the fact that you don’t see your own hand.  Communication and trust are very important in Hanabi since your teammates are your only way to gain information about your cards.  Careful planning and balancing are important, as one person may be stuck discarding a card with a hand they know nothing about.  As there are only one five of each color, giving that information about a person’s hand is essential, as an early discard can cause the team to “lose” early on.  One great mechanic about Hanabi is having a point scale at the end, so players can continue the whole game even if they know they won’t get a perfect score.

Another interesting mechanic about Hanabi is how each player can only give half the information about a teammate’s cards.  For example, you can only say one fact, so either the color they have in the hand “you have 2 red cards” and point to those specific cards, or say a number, “you have one three.”  This means it can take at least two turns to find out the full information about a card.  Because of this, players may have to discard or play a card they don’t know enough about, which makes the game have a risk-reward mechanic.  Hanabi is a refreshing and challenging cooperative game that is simple to learn but hard to master

Hanabi Gameplay
Do I spot a mistake? Minus one fuse token

2 Player Experience

Two player in Hanabi is very challenging.  As you can only see your teammate’s hand, it can be hard to get the right cards from the bat to play.  You may be stuck with a couple  “five” cards that can’t be discarded but can’t be played until the end of the game.  Because of this, two player is much harder than four player as you have less information and less cards to go by.  Gameplay isn’t as interesting because there is not as many decisions one can make and can sometimes feel more like Solitaire. Hanabi can be played with two players for an extra challenge, but having more players is recommended.

4 Player Experience

Four player with Hanabi was a much different game than two player.  Since there are more people to give information and more cards to go around, playing and discarding cards aren’t as much of a risk.  The game decisions were much more straight forward as it was more likely a player would have a card they can play after being given the correct information by a teammate.  While it didn’t make Hanabi too easy, four player made the game interactive enough to be enjoyable while still having a good difficulty level.  Hanabi is definitely a game that excels with more players.


Forbidden Desert

Overview: Forbidden Desert is a cooperative tile shifting strategy game.  Players work together to clear sand, excavate tiles, and find parts for their flying machine all while avoiding death by thirst or sand. After each turn, players reveal a number of cards which move certain tiles, add sand, cause thirst or the storm to pick up (potentially increasing # of cards drawn).  Each player has a special role which can aid their friends, which can be to give extra water or clear extra sand tiles.  Players also receive gear cards when they excavate certain tiles, which can be the difference of winning and losing.  End game is when one player gets to zero water, sand storm meter gets to skull symbol, or players collect all the flying machine parts and fly off to victory.forbidden desert box

Forbidden Desert is the sequel to Forbidden Island by Gamewright.  Forbidden Desert, however, is much harder and has much more strategic depth than its predecessor.  The constantly shifting tiles, fear of thirst, and working together cohesively makes this game quite challenging, which also adds to its replay value. Forbidden Desert makes balancing between excavating tiles, keeping thirst level at bay, and finding flying machine parts a very challenging act.  Players must plan ahead together, and agree on what the priorities are, whether it be getting water or getting to a tunnel, which protects from “sun beats down”.

Don’t count out Forbidden Desert because of the difficulty, however, since one can set the sand storm level to novice, which can help keep the game accelerating too quickly.  Also, because of its cooperative mechanic, players will want a challenge and not just to beat this on the first try.  Forbidden Desert is highly recommended for those who enjoy cooperative games that provide a unique challenge.  Forbidden Desert Gameplay

2 Player Review 

Two players seems like a breeze compared to four player.  It’s much easier to gain water as you only have to coordinate with two pawns instead of four or five.  This makes losing on thirst much harder to do.  Even though you get less special roles, it balances itself out because now you can share the gear powers much easier like with the water.  However, this doesn’t mean two player isn’t fun or challenging, as you can up the sand storm level starting point on each game.  The shifting tiles makes for great replay value, because each game can be different depending on what you excavate first and what cards get revealed.  Two player works well because of the ease of communication and good replay value.

4 Player Review

Forbidden Desert is quite challenging with four players.  Coordinating water and items can be tricky if all your pawns are spread across the map.  Careful planning is very important in four player as you don’t want to spread yourself thin when death is on the line.  In this way, four player can be more interesting than two player because of the balancing act.  Players will enjoy the challenge and the interaction between all their friends and the special roles in play.  Four player is enjoyable because of the strategic challenge it provides.